Solidworks launches its spring design collection

Spring is here, which, among other things, means that 3D software company Solidworks is currently showcasing the latest version of its product suite.

Solidworks 2016 was launched last week and, according to the company, contains over 100 innovations and is the culmination of over 600 projects.

To date, the company boasts nearly 2.72 million licenses shipped, and 210,800 companies worldwide as paid up users.

It explains its focus (and a reason for its popularity) for enabling users to concentrate on “design, not the design tool”.

“The whole idea is ‘Mr Customer, your job is to focus on the design,’” Benjamin Tan, Director of Professional Channels AP South, Dassault Systemes (Solidworks’ parent company) told Manufacturers’ Monthly of the philosophy behind any upgrades. 

“Our job is to make the tool you use as intuitive as possible, so much so that you focus purely on the design while we help you solve your problem.”

And as with previous years, enhancements were pitched around the themes of “design, collaborate, build and validate.”

At a Sydney lunch event last week to mark SW2016’s launch, case study Cocreators presented on its use of the Solidworks suite as core in assisting start-ups in product development.

Based in Alexandria, Sydney, the agency was formed three-and-a-half years ago and has recently been involved with three Kickstarter projects – Ninja Sphere, MicroView and GoFar – with a fourth – the Forcite Alpine Helmet – to go live on the crowdfunding website this Wednesday at 1 am, Sydney time.

The smart snow sports helmet has gained the attention of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and other news outlets this year, and Cocreators has spent 18 months working on it with Forcite duo Alfred Boyadgis and James Chen.

The helmet integrates a high-resolution video camera, long-range Bluetooth for communications, fog lights and more.

“[It brings] all this together into a device that can compile video of your best elements of the run on your smartphone, hooked up via Bluetooth and hit share,” explained Ted Esdaile-Watts, co-director at Cocreators.

Nine-tenths of the upgrades in Solidworks 2016, as with other years, come based on feedback from users such as Cocreators and others.

It continues to be a case of giving the customer what they want.

This time around enhancements include an automated thread creation tool (select the tool, select a starting and a concluding edge, enter a number of threads and voila), and being able to define constant and variable fillet edges as “curvature continuous”. The latter helps blend sharp edges much more quickly.

There is also a rebranding and integration of Dassault’s Bunkspeed studio as Solidworks Visualize, making photo-quality renderings for marketing purposes much simpler.

Asked which of the additions he found most useful, Tan nominated the Breadcrumbs feature, which makes it easier to access any level of a model, without displaying the feature tree onscreen.

These follow a user as they work on a project, cutting down on mouse travel.

“The software intelligence to some extent studies – I use the word ‘study’, quote unquote study – the design behaviour of the user and makes relevant recommendations on how he designs,” said Tan.

It mightn’t sound important, but every flick of a mouse requires a little effort. And every little effort adds up.

 “To move the mouse on the cursor from one end of the screen to the other end of the screen, it takes a couple of seconds: imagine doing this repetition a couple of thousand times a day,” said Tan.

 “So if you can cut that by, say, 50 per cent, can you imagine the number of minutes you save? If you multiply that by, say, 200, 220 days a year, that’s big. Again, just by that little feature, you get humongous productivity gains.”